Harry Dunning graduated with flying colors. I went to the little GED ceremony in the LHS gym, at his invitation. He really had no one else, and I was happy to do it.
After the benediction (spoken by Father Bandy, who rarely missed an LHS function), I made my way through the milling friends and relatives to where Harry was standing alone in his billowy black gown, holding his diploma in one hand and his rented mortarboard in the other. I took his hat so I could shake his hand. He grinned, exposing a set of teeth with many gaps and several leaners. But a sunny and engaging grin, for all that.
“Thanks for coming, Mr. Epping. Thanks so much.”
“It was my pleasure. And you can call me Jake. It’s a little perk I accord to students who are old enough to be my father.”
He looked puzzled for a minute, then laughed. “I guess I am, ain’t I? Sheesh!” I laughed, too. Lots of people were laughing all around us. And there were tears, of course. What’s hard for me comes easily to a great many people.
“And that A-plus! Sheesh! I never got an A-plus in my whole life! Never expected one, either!”
“You deserved it, Harry. So what’s the first thing you’re going to do as a high school graduate?”
His smile dimmed for a second—this was a prospect he hadn’t considered. “I guess I’ll go back home. I got a little house I rent on Goddard Street, you know.” He raised the diploma, holding it carefully by the fingertips, as if the ink might smear. “I’ll frame this and hang it on the wall. Then I guess I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and sit on the couch and just admire it until bedtime.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said, “but would you like to have a burger and some fries with me first? We could go down to Al’s.”
I expected a wince at that, but of course I was judging Harry by my colleagues. Not to mention most of the kids we taught; they avoided Al’s like the plague and tended to patronize either the Dairy Queen across from the school or the Hi-Hat out on 196, near where the old Lisbon Drive-In used to be.
“That’d be great, Mr. Epping. Thanks!”
“Jake, you bet.”
So I took Harry to Al’s, where I was the only faculty regular, and although he actually had a waitress that summer, Al served us himself. As usual, a cigarette (illegal in public eating establishments, but that never stopped Al) smoldered in one corner of his mouth and the eye on that side squinted against the smoke. When he saw the folded-up graduation robe and realized what the occasion was, he insisted on picking up the check (what check there was; the meals at Al’s were always remarkably cheap, which had given rise to rumors about the fate of certain stray animals in the vicinity). He also took a picture of us, which he later hung on what he called the Town Wall of Celebrity.
From 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Copyright © 2011 by Stephen King. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
What if you could prevent the assassination of JFK?
On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died and the course of history was forever changed. Today, one man wants to change it back.
Stephen King at his epic best, 11/22/63 is a tour de force that hearkens back to his previous bestsellers like The Stand and It—both in scope and in storytelling prowess. At the center of the maelstrom is Jake Epping, a 35-year-old high school English teacher who has just been entrusted by his dying friend with a shocking secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. And no matter how long you stay there, only two minutes will have passed on this side. But that’s not the only bombshell. His friend wants to enlist Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to prevent the Kennedy assassination. But can Jake really change the course of history? A quick—and brutal—experiment proves that he can.
So begins Jake’s new life in the world of Elvis mania, big American cars and sock hops as he stalks a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald, meets a beautiful librarian named Sadie…and begins an adventure that transgresses all the normal rules of time….
Hardcover Book : 864 pages
Publisher: Scribner/Simon & Schuster ( November 08, 2011 )
Item #: 13-393442
Product Dimensions: 6.125 x 9.25 x 1.35inches
Product Weight: 42.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
On the positive side, Mr. King does a great job setting the scene: the details of time and place are well-done. On the negative side, everything else. Like always, King goes on and on (at page 500 I thought the book was too long, and with 350 pages still to go, I gave up). Like always, he insists on telling us a character's every stray, random, trivial, boring, unnecessary thought. Like always, he cannot mention ANYTHING just once; EVERYTHING in the story comes back again and again, as though EVERYTHING were of equal importance. Like always, King is the most gratuitously scatological of writers: in every book we have to read about characters going to the bathroom (or thinking about it, or referring to it, or comparing something else to it), and like always--with the possible exception of THE GREEN MILE--it never has anything to do with the actual story. Mr. King is a wonderful inventor of stories, but I often wish he would farm them out to others to do the actual writing.
Reviewer: Michael S
I have read every book Mr. King has published. To me this is one of the best he has written. Having lived in
Dallas all my life and living thru the assassination of John Kennedy by having been in the crowd as he went by in downtown Dallas, I feel a special connection to this book. I am familiar with many of the places mentioned in the book. I was in high school at the time and actually crossed paths with Harvey Oswald more than once. One of them was actually talking with General Walker about six months after he was shot at by Lee Oswald and he showed me the window. So again thank you Mr. King for having taken me back to another time and place.
Night before last, I reached page 785 of "11/22/63" and then felt a sort of despair...I closed my eyes and I realized I didn't want the story to end. Thoughts about time-travel are mind-bending and King put a new spin on the subject and took it to the limit. Virtually all his characters became solidified and human and I felt as if I'd known them. This novel was so engrossing that I wished I could find Lisbon Falls, Al's diner and that rabbit-hole...I'd go back and try to manipulate the past so I could read "11/22/63" all over again, anew. But, alas, King was only 11 years old in 1958 and it would be a long wait for him to sit down and write this again. I found the resolution poignant and strangely compelling (with his son Joe Hill's suggestions). What a wild ride...thank you, Mr. King.
I just finished reading this book and I loved it. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors & his creativity boogles my mind. I did notice this one was less gory than his earlier works & I like that, too.
This is now my second favorite Stephen King book after The Stand, which is, in my opinion, his best work. The mix of fiction with fact is incredible and he does an amazing job of making time travel believable without giving the reader too much of a headache. If you like a story with intrigue, romance and action, read this book. I haven't heard one person who didn't like it.
Reviewer: Beckie A